On December 9, Karnataka became the 20th state to completely ban cow slaughter in the state. Anyone who indulges in illegal slaughter or transportation of cows will be punished for a jail term of up to 7 years.
On December 10, Congress Party in Karnataka boycotted the proceedings of the legislative assembly. Today was the last day of the winter assembly. The opposition party protested against the introduction and passage of the anti-cow slaughter bill. The speaker had requested them to participate repeatedly, but they did not budge. The bill titled Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020 was passed by the assembly on Wednesday amidst protests by the Congress Party.
Siddaramaiah announced the boycott of assembly on Wednesday
Siddaramaiah, leader of Opposition, had announced that Congress would boycott the assembly on Thursday to mark their protest against the recently passed bill. He had called it an ‘anti-democratic act.’ Instead of attending the assembly proceedings, the Congress party MLAs attended the legislature party meeting.
Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri had requested them to participate, by they refused. The Speaker said, “Opposition leader Siddaramaiah and Congress legislators had yesterday announced that they will boycott the assembly proceedings today and none of them are participating today. I appeal to them to participate in the proceedings.”
The Congress Party had accused the Speaker of conducting the proceedings in a ‘partisan’ manner by allowing the BJP government to introduce and pass the bill. Kageri said that Siddaramaiah had talked to him on a couple of issues regarding the bill’s passage. He clarified to the opposition leader that the house was conducted as per the set rules and procedures.
Siddaramaiah also claimed that it was against the decision of the Business Advisory Committee (BAC). The bill was not mentioned in the agenda for the day. However, during the meeting, the bill was clearly discussed as per the Speaker, and it was decided that the ordinance and important bills can be taken up. The Speaker said that a copy of the bill was circulated among the members of the house before it was introduced and passed. He also rejected the leader of the opposition’s accusation that the bill was passed without discussion.
He said that several members from the ruling party expressed their views on the bill, and when the Speaker asked the opposition to participate in the discussion, they refused. He said, “They not participating despite repeated requests is not my responsibility.”
Statements by the ministers
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy said that they had made clear that some important bills will be introduced in the session. After they realized that the legislative council would be adjourned sine die on Thursday, they introduced the cow slaughter bill with an intention to get it passed by both the houses during the same session.
He said, “During the last sessions some bills passed by the assembly got held up in the council without getting passed and we (government) had to promulgate an ordinance. It looks as though we are only promulgating ordinances. Governor also had questioned.” He further said that the amendments in the law would prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves. Buffalos older than 13 years of age are allowed to be slaughtered. “Both seller and purchaser will be punished,” he added.
Karnataka Minister Prabhu Chauhan said that the 1964 law against cow slaughter was not strict enough. “We have made changes to ensure safety for cows.”
‘BJP passed the law to get benefit in Gram Panchayat elections’ alleged Opposition
Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah and other Congress leaders have alleged that the BJP-led Karnataka government passed the bill to gain benefit in the upcoming Zila Parishad elections. Siddaramaiah said, “They want to polarize voters as Gram Panchayat elections are there.”
DK Shivakumar alleged that the bill would affect the entire farmer community. There was already an anti-cow slaughter law in Karnataka. There was no need to introduce and pass a new bill. “They wanted to help the political agenda of BJP,” he added. Rizwan Arshad, Congress MLA, also alleged that the bill was passed to help BJP in Gram Panchayat elections. “This is not the protection of animal bill, it is the election bill,” he added.